Government persecution of Christians living in China is on the rise, but “we won’t lose heart,” said Bob Fu, founder of ChinaAid.
According to ChinaAid’s recent 2013 report, persecution cases increased by 38.82 percent from 2012 to 2013 when considering data in the following six categories: number of cases, number of people persecuted, number of people detained, number of people sentenced, number of abuse cases, and number of people abused. The most significant increase was in the number of people persecuted. In 2012, 4,919 people were persecuted for their faith, compared with 7,424 people in 2013, a 50.9 percent increase.
The Chinese constitution guarantees freedom of religion. And visitors to the country can see that the church is certainly not absent in China. Bibles are available through government-approved churches, and people are allowed to attend services at government-approved locations and times. This, however, is not the reality for many evangelical Christians in China.
Churches that are not members of the state-run Three-Self Church are often viewed with contempt. Members of house churches are viewed as dissenters, and authorities try a variety of tactics to get them to conform. Pastors and church members alike have been persecuted for not conforming to policies of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and for refusing to give up their outspoken faith. In 2013, there were 1,470 people detained for Christian activities.
Among those detained in 2013 are two men who were trying to help local believers open a new Christian book store in Taiyuan, Shanxi province. On June 17, 2013, Wenxi Li was sentenced to two years in prison and Lacheng Ren was sentenced to five years in prison for their involvement with the Enyu Bookstore, which government authorities called an “illegal business.” While awaiting trial, Wenxi led three people to Christ. His family plans to appeal the case.
China may try to control and restrict the Christian faith, but believers are demonstrating that Christ has already won their true freedom. 2 Corinthians 4:15–17 reads:
“For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
While they risk their personal safety and sometimes face false imprisonment, they trust in God’s future glory. They do not lose hope that God will continue to use them and many more will come to Christ. They won’t lose heart.
“Ann Kay” is a writer for VOM. She learned about VOM five years ago when she read Tortured for Christ and began receiving the newsletter. She is passionate about reaching the world for Christ and sharing stories of the persecuted church.
Sources: ChinaAid, VOM Sources